October ED Talk: “The Specter of Semilingualism: The Production of Raciolinguistic Categories within Standards-Based Reform”

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October 11, 2019


10:00am to 11:00am


Sanchez Building (SZB) Room 435

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This lecture is based on a theoretical framework co-developed by Nelson Flores, associate professor of Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, that explains raciolinguistic ideologies (ideologies about race and linguistics) and how they are used to frame the language practices of racialized communities as inherently deficient. One raciolinguistic category imposed on Latinx students is semilingualism, suggesting students have failed to fully master either English or Spanish.

First, Flores will provide a historical perspective on semilingualism from the Bilingual Education Act to contemporary standards-based reform. He will then offer case studies of three students in a dual-language school in a segregated, primarily Latinx community. He will examine the ways teachers working with these students struggle to make sense of this phenomenon, which often ends in teachers resorting to deficit perspectives as an explanation. He will end with implications of these findings for developing new conceptualizations of the language practices of Latinx students that resist raciolinguistic ideologies.